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Photographing your Fish

Contents:

  1. AQUARIUM PHOTOGRAPHY <<<<
    by eric.chang-at-chrysalis.org (Tue, 02 Aug 94)
  2. Photographing fishy friends
    by booth-at-lvld.hp.com (George Booth) (20 Jan 1995)
  3. Photographing fishy friends
    by (e-mail) (Erik Olson) (21 Jan 1995/1996)
  4. Aquarium Photography - tips from rec.photo.advanced
    by cr_batishko-at-pnl.gov (Chuck) (23 Mar 1995)
  5. How Do You Photograph Aquarium Fish?
    by steve-at-rhythm.com (Steve Tyree) (Thu, 14 Oct 1993)
  6. Aquarium Photography - tips from rec.photo.advanced
    by GWLANG-at-ccmail.Monsanto.com (Gary Lange) (27 Mar 1995)
  7. Full Tank Photos
    by krandall/world.std.com (Sat, 25 Jan 1997)
  8. Photography and tanks
    by krandall/world.std.com (Fri, 05 Sep 1997)
  9. Photographing fish without causing stress
    by eennis/elk.uvm.edu (E.M. Ennis) (8 Nov 1997)
  10. photos of nutrient deficiency symptoms
    by "Matthew Paul Rhoten" <mrhoten/surly.org> (Fri, 6 Mar 1998)
  11. Photographing fish and awuariums?
    by Doug Brown <debrown/kodak.com> (Fri, 15 May 1998)
  12. Re: New Stuff on the Krib
    by Dave Mosley <dxm1/calweb.com> (Fri, 15 May 1998)
  13. Amano Blue
    by krandall/world.std.com (Fri, 24 Jul 1998)
  14. Electronic Flash
    by "James Purchase" <jpurch/interlog.com> (Mon, 14 Jun 1999)
  15. Publication Quality
    by krandall/world.std.com (Sat, 24 Jul 1999)
  16. Photo Effects (Was Rio Tefe)
    by Scot Gillespie <Scot.Gillespie/epsedin.co.uk> (Tue, 14 Mar 2000)
  17. lights
    by busko/stsci.edu (Ivo Busko) (Fri, 13 Oct 2000)
  18. tank picture: overexposed upper leaves
    by K12Trout/aol.com (Tue, 27 Feb 2001)
  19. Tank pictures
    by K9AUB/aol.com (Wed, 28 Feb 2001)
  20. Tank pictures
    by K9AUB/aol.com (Wed, 28 Feb 2001)

AQUARIUM PHOTOGRAPHY <<<<

by eric.chang-at-chrysalis.org
Date: Tue, 02 Aug 94
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria


 N > Help! 
 N > Using a 35mm SLR camera, where should the off-camera flash be 
 N > situated? 
 N > Should it be against the glass on both sides of the tank? 
 N > or above the tank? 
 N > or in front of the tank? 
 N > or multiple untis on all sides of the tank? 
 N >              ^^units 
 N >  
 N > I'm assuming dedicated TTL flash photography. 
 N >  
 N > matt 
 N > mchm_ltd-at-uhura.cc.rochester.edu 
 N >  
 N > . 
  
Hi Matt.  I had a professional photographer come in and photograph my 
fish.  He used a plastic bag to cover the flash, and immersed it in the 
water.  The pix came out magazine quality.  I tried doing it myself and 
ended up getting all sorts of flash reflections off the glass.  Eric 
 
... OFFLINE 1.40 


Photographing fishy friends

by booth-at-lvld.hp.com (George Booth)
Date: 20 Jan 1995
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

Peter Konshak (pkonshak-at-fiat.gslis.utexas.edu) wrote:
> I recently took a few shots of my tanks, only to find that they didn't 
> turn out at all.  For those of you who photograph your tanks, like George 
> and Erik, how do you get such gorgeous photos?  I'm assuming you don't 
> use a flash.  I'm looking for ideas on film, lighting, etc.  I have a 
> pretty simple Canon 35mm camera.  Thanks for any help,

I use normal tank lighting, either 2 175w MH lights or 4 40w FL lights. 
The MH lights are 5500K so give nice color balance with "daylight" 
film.  A combination of Triton and PennPlax Ultra Tri-lux FL gives a
measured color temperature of 6500K and this also seems to give 
good daylight color balance (I suspect the water filters it down 
the daylight range).  

We use all kinds of film; Kodachrome slide film seems to work best 
with the FL combo, Ektachrome works best with the MH.  

I have an old Pentax ME 35mm SLR camera with a standard 50mm F2 lens, 
a 28-85mm F3.5 zoom and a 200mm F4 telephoto lens.  The zoom lens does
best for closeups but the slow aperature requires ASA 200 or 400 film, 
causing some graininess.  I can get by with 100 speed film with the 
faster 50mm lens but can't compose the photos as well.  I'm usually 
using either 1/15 or 1/30 sec exposures, trying for as much depth of 
field as possible.  A tripod is used most of the time.  

We shoot a whole lot of film to get one or two decent pictures.  I think
we spent close to $200 on film processing last year to get 80 slides
for our plant seminars and magazine shots (see this month's AFM). 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
George Booth                         "Nothing in the world is more dangerous 
booth-at-hplvec.lvld.hp.com             than sincere ignorance and conscientious 
Freshwater Plant Tank Technology     stupidity" - Martin Luther King, Jr. 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Photographing fishy friends

by (e-mail) (Erik Olson)
Date: 21 Jan 1995/1996
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

>Peter Konshak (pkonshak-at-fiat.gslis.utexas.edu) wrote:
>> I recently took a few shots of my tanks, only to find that they didn't 
>> turn out at all.  For those of you who photograph your tanks, like George 
>> and Erik, how do you get such gorgeous photos?  I'm assuming you don't 
>> use a flash.  I'm looking for ideas on film, lighting, etc.  I have a 
>> pretty simple Canon 35mm camera.  Thanks for any help,

Simple is good, in this case!  My setup consists entirely of 35MM SLR on
Manual override, a flash that can be set to manual, one of those 3 foot
flash extension cords, a tripod, and most importantly A NOTEBOOK.

I use two different approaches.  For full tank shots, I use available light
and put the camera on tripod.  I worked out the general exposure based on
number of tubes by bracketing like crazy on my first few rolls (writing
in the notebook "Plant Tank: 1/2 second, f/8;  1/2 second, f/5.6, etc." so I
know exactly what exposure each was taken under.  Now I have a good general
guideline I follow, but it's still important to bracket one stop either
direction around your "ideal".

Bracketing, for those who don't know, means to take THREE or more
pictures, one at your exposure, and one or more in each direction
(underexposed one or more stop or 1/2,1/4, etc. shutter speed; and
corresponding overexposure or doubled shutter speeds).

For close-ups, I use the flash, which works wonders once you get used to it.
I put the flash on extension cord & hold it in my left hand while taking
the pictures with my right.  It's most important to make sure the flash will
not bounce off the glass!!  This is the most misunderstood aspect of fish
photography.  Sometimes I open the top of the tank & hold the flash ABOVE the
water like the lights.  Sometimes I hold it on the front glass above & to the
left of the camera.  Experiment!  Set the flash on manual, full exposure, and
take lots of notes on your first few rolls.  Bracket the f-stop. Oh, I should
also mention that when using flash, you'll want to use LOW-SPEED films like
Kodachrome-64 or 200 (For K200, I have to stop the camera all the way down to
f/22).

I'm also playing around with close-up lenses these days.  Close-up
lenses are a kit of 2 or 3 "filters" (costing $10-20) that make your
camera nearsighted.  They're a nice way to do close-up photography
without having to invest $300 in a Macro lens.

Films:  I use almost exclusively Kodachrome 64 and Kodachrome 200.  High
speed Ektachrome looks too grainy for me.  I don't generally do print
films, so I can't comment on that.

Hope this helps.  I should probably write this up as a little article for
my fish club.

   - Erik
--
---
Erik D. Olson                		The Job-o-meter:
(e-mail)             	eh... a two-monther
Final exam: Febrary 23 (or earlier)


Aquarium Photography - tips from rec.photo.advanced

by cr_batishko-at-pnl.gov (Chuck)
Date: 23 Mar 1995
Newsgroup: sci.aquaria

A recent post and series of replies entitled "Best way to shoot at an indoor
aquarium" appeared in rec.photo.advanced.  I thought it might be of interest
here, so took out parts of the headers, left out a few replies that were more
humorous than helpful, and combined the rest into one long post, to reduce
volume.  The result follows.  The exchange continues, but I think the
following covers the topic adequately.
**************************************** start *****************************************
~From: rgreen-at-cyber.gate.net (Richard Green)
~Newsgroups: rec.photo.advanced
~Subject: Best way to shoot at an indoor aquarium
~Date: 21 Mar 1995 23:33:42 GMT
Organization: The Source Christian Music News
~Lines: 7
Message-ID: <3kno92$8a4_003-at-tpafl-22.gate.net>
NNTP-Posting-Host: tpafl-25.gate.net
X-Newsreader: News Xpress Version 1.0 Beta #3

I have a chance to shoot at the New Florida Aquraium before it opens and
was wondering about the BEST way to shoot?

Lens up to glass with a difusion on the flash?

OR.......?

Tips or personal exp. recieved gratefully
**********************************************************************************
~From: Jim Dabir <jdabir-at-inforamp.net>
~Newsgroups: rec.photo.advanced
~Subject: Re: Best way to shoot at an indoor aquarium
~Date: 22 Mar 1995 13:13:03 GMT
Organization: InfoRamp inc., Toronto, Ontario (416) 363-9100
~Lines: 18
Message-ID: <3kp7ov$obn-at-inforamp.net>
~References: <3kno92$8a4_003-at-tpafl-22.gate.net>
NNTP-Posting-Host: ts5-12.inforamp.net

There was an artical in Outdoor Photographer's April or March 95 on how to
do this. From what I remember, it was simply leaving the flash on the camera,
use a rubber hood on the lens and when taking the picture, makeing sure
that the rubber hood is against the glass so no light reflection gets into the
picture.  Also, the author suggested to wear dark clothes [to reduce effect
of your own reflection in the glass].

good luck
***************************************************************************************
~From: jacobson-at-cello.hpl.hp.com (David Jacobson)
~Newsgroups: rec.photo.advanced
~Subject: Re: Best way to shoot at an indoor aquarium
~Date: 22 Mar 1995 09:22:45 -0800
Organization: Hewlett-Packard Labs, Palo Alto, CA, USA
~Lines: 42
Message-ID: <3kpmd5$ag8-at-cello.hpl.hp.com>
~References: <3kno92$8a4_003-at-tpafl-22.gate.net>
NNTP-Posting-Host: cello.hpl.hp.com

You get serious astigmatism (?) if you don't have the lens axis normal
to the surface of the glass.  So keep it normal.  If you must aim to
the side, be sure to use a small aperture.  Of course, keep the lens as
close to the glass as you can.  I thought of buying a rubber lens
shade that I could put right against the glass, but haven't gotten
around to it.

A couple of years ago I attended a members' night thing at the Monterey
Bay Aquarium where the staff photographer told how he did it.  His
main trick was putting a radio-controlled flash above the tank.

I've never had that luxury, but I have had reasonably good results
with a LumiQuest Big-Bounce on the flash and the flash on a long cord
held against the glass above and possibly to the side of the lens.
One time, though, I got gastly shadows of jellyfish cast on the back
wall of the tank.  It looked really ugly.  If you are really into
this and have an assistant, two flashes might be better than one.

Another alternative is fast film and available light, if the tanks are
well illuminated.  I have a fantastic print of a bright red jelly
(sorry, I don't know the species) I got at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
that way.  

Finally, you should take along a microfiber cloth (or maybe a small
bottle of Windex and some Kleenex if you don't mind attracting
attention) and clean the window where you are going to be shooting.
You said the aquarium will not yet have opened, so maybe it won't be a
problem, but normally, the windows are covered with hand prints
and kids' nose grease.

  -- David Jacobson
*************************************************************************************
~From: karant-at-gallium (Dr. Yasha Karant)
~Newsgroups: rec.photo.advanced
~Subject: Re: Best way to shoot at an indoor aquarium
~Date: 22 Mar 1995 22:49:30 GMT
Organization: California State University Sacramento
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Message-ID: <3kq9hq$oeo-at-news.csus.edu>
~References: <3kno92$8a4_003-at-tpafl-22.gate.net>   <3kpujm$slt-at-gap.cco.caltech.edu>
~Reply-To: karant-at-gallium.csusb.edu
NNTP-Posting-Host: karant%-at-gallium.csusb.edu
X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2]

I agree with the basic procedures outlined in previous responses:
normal lens axis, rubber hood flush to glass, clean glass, dark
clothing.  Ideally, lighting above the tank normal to the water
surface is to be used; lacking this, I have one additional
recommendation *if* you are allowed the luxury of having a full setup.
Mount the camera and several TTL linked flashes each on different pods,
with the camera aligned normal, rubber hood, etc.  Arrange the flashes
so that more than the entire FOV is covered.  This way as the light
from the near FOV falls off through the tank, the flashes on the wings
fill in.  This assumes appropriate coverage angles and output power
from each flash, and may require a few test shots to verify that there
are no "hot spots" or "dark spots".  Some of the flashes may need to
be above the height of the camera, and some below, in an "X" pattern
with the camera (generally) at the intersection.

Yasha Karant
karant-at-gallium.csusb.edu
*************************************************************************************
~From: spw1-at-cornell.edu (Stephen Walker)
~Newsgroups: rec.photo.advanced
~Subject: Re: Best way to shoot at an indoor aquarium
~Date: Thu, 23 Mar 1995 10:37:00 UNDEFINED
Organization: Cornell University
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NNTP-Posting-Host: swalker.dmll.cornell.edu
X-Newsreader: Trumpet for Windows [Version 1.0 Rev B]

[ This was in response to a suggestion to use a polarizer to cut reflections.]
A polarizer will probably only _minimize_ the reflections, and not eliminate 
them entirely.  Also, I would think the light loss would be unacceptable, 
considering most aquariums are pretty dark to begin with.

-Steve
**************************************************************************************
My own comment on the polarizer issue is that the last post is correct - a
polarizer will only reduce reflections.  Polarizers are not perfect for starters,
but more important, the reflections will likely be randomly polarized so that
the degree of attenuationof reflections will be dependent on the angle of the
polarization axis of the polarizer relative to the angle of polarization of the
light.  In general, without doing the calculation, I wouldn't expect to approach
50% attenuation.  Besides, if the lens hood (rubber or front ring) is in contact
with the glass, ambient light can't reach it to be reflected, so that solves the
problem.

With respect to home aquariums (the original question here was a large
public aquarium), the closeness of the subject to the lens suggests a macro
lens.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Chuck                      | "Be sure you see what you
cr_batishko-at-pnl.gov |     look at..." - Cap Huff
                               |     Rabble in Arms by
                               |     Kenneth Roberts
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


How Do You Photograph Aquarium Fish?

by steve-at-rhythm.com (Steve Tyree)
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1993
Newsgroup: alt.aquaria,rec.aquaria,sci.aquaria

In article <CEsJt0.CnJ-at-ra.nrl.navy.mil> tse-at-ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) writes:
>In article <CEsHs1.4BC-at-cbnewsj.cb.att.com> rdb1-at-cbnewsj.cb.att.com (ronald.j.deblock..jr) writes:
>>If you insist on using your normal tank lighting, you may be able to find
>>a filter that will allow you to use normal daylight film.  Filters exist
>>for "normal" fluorescent tubes, they may be close enough.  The filter will
>>be magenta colored, or close to it.
>
>   Filter for "normal" fl correction won't help with actinic03s.
>If you have a Polaroid, you can get some CC filters and put them
>in front of the lens until the color come out right.  Since
>03s are blueish purple, magenta and red filters will be the
>correct ones to use.  Using flash only in a reef tank won't work
>too well.  Once you turn the lights off, the corals will start
>to retract.  If you use flash, it will spook some inverts such
>as clams.

 I have found that gel filters from CC30Y to CC50Y allow you to filter
the actinic blue out and capture the intense green of corals. Capturing
blue under metal halides + actinic 03's is a real tough one. Any blue
colored coral will usually overexpose if proper contrast is desired.
My favorite film right now is EPL Kodak ektachrome 400. It is a bit
pricey however. I have just shot a role of Lumiere 100 as a test. 
 All my photos are being shot in existing light only. This usually
means that every specimen photoed needs very different settings and
parameters. Shooting this way is important if you do not want to 
bother light sensitive organisms. The only way to learn seems to be
to take practice photos and write notes for each one. Slides make the
learning practice easier on the checkbook.

 Steve Tyree


Aquarium Photography - tips from rec.photo.advanced

by GWLANG-at-ccmail.Monsanto.com (Gary Lange)
Date: 27 Mar 1995
Newsgroup: sci.aquaria

In article <3ksndm$242-at-bbs.pnl.gov>, cr_batishko-at-pnl.gov (Chuck) wrote:

> A recent post and series of replies entitled "Best way to shoot at an indoor
> aquarium" appeared in rec.photo.advanced.  I thought it might be of interest
> here, so took out parts of the headers, left out a few replies that were more
> humorous than helpful, and combined the rest into one long post, to reduce
> volume.  The result follows.  The exchange continues, but I think the
> following covers the topic adequately.

deleted

> From: Jim Dabir <jdabir-at-inforamp.net>
> Newsgroups: rec.photo.advanced
> Subject: Re: Best way to shoot at an indoor aquarium
> Date: 22 Mar 1995 13:13:03 GMT
> Organization: InfoRamp inc., Toronto, Ontario (416) 363-9100
> Lines: 18
> Message-ID: <3kp7ov$obn-at-inforamp.net>
> References: <3kno92$8a4_003-at-tpafl-22.gate.net>
> NNTP-Posting-Host: ts5-12.inforamp.net
> 
> There was an artical in Outdoor Photographer's April or March 95 on how to
> do this. From what I remember, it was simply leaving the flash on the camera,
> use a rubber hood on the lens and when taking the picture, makeing sure
> that the rubber hood is against the glass so no light reflection gets into the
> picture.  Also, the author suggested to wear dark clothes [to reduce effect
> of your own reflection in the glass].

more deleted

This wasn't in the April issue so it must be in the March issue of OP.  I
am assuming that the poster correctly gleaned the information that they
used.

Ok you've all seen some of the absolutely wrong articles published in
FAMA.  They often appear there because often the articles are unedited. 
You would think that as critical as Outdoor Photographer normally is that
they would check out stuff like this before they publish it.  You might be
able to get one or two shots per roll to come out like this but you can
get those sorts of results with a throw-away camera too.  All of the other
"wantabes" that added their 2 cents - well you have to ask yourself if
they ever bothered to try out their suggestions and exactly what do they
consider good photography. I've made it my business to always try and
improve my photography so over the years I've made it a habit of asking
people who are good at taking fish pictures how they do it.  ALL that I
have asked take the flash off of the camera.  Every single one of them. 
Some use a bracket device to do this, others use the
hand-holding-the-flash method.  Those that I have asked include: Paul
Loiselle, Tony Terceria - the best killie photographer around, Mark Smith
- probably the best overall fish photographer in the US, Ed Taylor - who
will shortly have a book out on livebearers (TFH), Neil Armstrong (Oz),
Lee Finley and John O'Malley.  If you know anyone who regularly sells
their shots that uses a flash on the camera please let me know, I think
you will be hard pressed to find one.  

As far as pressing your nose or your camera lens up to the glass of the
tank - give me a break!  Even in a darken room there is enough light that
the fish will be able to see you and probably go into hiding or stop the
behaviour that you are trying to record.  As most of you now know some of
the information out on the net is real and other information (like the
thread from rec.photo.advanced) is totally bogus.  Too bad they don't have
a piece of software that can sniff out the BS for you 8^)

Gary  Lange    GWLANG-at-ccmail.monsanto.com


Full Tank Photos

by krandall/world.std.com
Date: Sat, 25 Jan 1997

Subject: Aquatic Photography

>Will you "professional" aquatic photographers give a few hints?  For 
>example, why is a short depth of field used when photographing so 
>frequently?  This causes part of the photo to be out of focus. 

First let me say that IMO, taking _really good_ full tank shots is one of
the hardest forms of aquarium photography.

It's not that people _want_ to use a short depth of field, but depending on
the lenses and lighting you have at your disposal, sometimes you are forced
into using a low F-stop or going with a higher speed (grainier) film.

 >Take a 
>look at Amano's pictures where he photographs the length of the tank - 
>everything is in focus except maybe a darting fish.  My guess is he uses a 
>long depth of field and longer exposure times. 

First, let me say that Amano, as good as he may be as an aquatic gardener,
is even more of an artist with the camera.  While his tanks are beautiful,
what _really_ makes his books the show stoppers they are is the photography.  

Most of us who are "professionals" in that we have published photos, are
really hobbyists who enjoy using our cameras as part of our hobby.  We earn
our livings in other areas (which is a good thing or we'd all starve<g>)
For the same reason, most of us make do with the photo equipment that we
have.  Very few of us have at our disposal the large format cameras that
Amano uses for at least some of his work.

>The recent palaudarium article had excellent photos - weren't those by
Karen Randall?  

Yes they were mine, and although I thank you for the praise, I wouldn't
call them "excellent".  They were the best that I've been able to manage on
that particular tank.  It is the hardest tank I've ever worked on, because
if you get the exposure of the land section right, the water section is
under exposed and vice versa.  To my credit though, I've had other aquarium
photographers with more experience than I try taking pictures of that tank,
and they've done no better.<g>

> The few I've tried were off color (no lens filters were used) and the
images weren't crisp. 
> What kind of lenses are used, filters, film speed, etc, for the folks who
are successful?

Funny thing, but Neil and I were just talking about this off the list.
Here's my response to him:

==================================
Neil wrote:

>I have always had problems taking full tank views with my flash. did you use
>time exposure with tripod or did you use a flash. IF the latter, I would be
>interested in knowing who you positioned the light.

I wrote:

I have been very disappointed with full tank photos with the flash.  Even
when I get the exposure right, and manage to avoid flash back and streaks
on the glass, the color is all wrong when the light comes from the front.
I've tried slaves on top, but I just don't have enough or the right
intensity to make it work.  I end up with hot spots.  

When I discussed this problem with Tony Terciera,(who I consider to be one
of the best aquarium photographers around) he suggested using more smaller
slaves and wrapping them in bubble wrap to diffuse the light.  I just
haven't gotten to the point that buying a bunch of small flashes (and slave
attachments) has made it to the top of the spending priority list.<g>  (a
better Macro comes much higher on the list, as does another Canon AE-1
body)  Dave <my husband> got me this humongous "SunPak" flash that looks
like an atomic bomb has gone off in your house if you use it at full power.
 It's been fun for close up stuff, but is lousy for the full tank shots. (I
usually use it at 1/4-1/2 power)

I've been playing around with time exposures on a tripod and different
speeds and brands of films.  My favorite film at the moment is one called
"Provia".  I was using Ektachrome, but without the flash, I didn't like the
yellowish color I was getting. (actually, I think the ones I sent you were
taken with Ektachrome)  I've found that in a well lit tank, I can sometimes
get away with using ASA 100 film, and I can almost always get the job done
with ASA 200.  With the camera on a tripod, I set the shutter speed at
either  1/15 or 1/30, (1/30 if I can get away with it) and an aperature of
1.8-2.5.  This would give you a pathetic depth of field with the macro on,
but seems to be OK with the little bit more distance you have with either a
50mm or 28mm lens.

>I seems to me that the color temperature of the bulbs should be matched to
>the film. I think alot of films are rated at 5500 or 6000K . If the bulbs
>are different than there would be a color shift. I have no idea, however, if
>500K is  noticeable.
>
>It also sounds like your 6 or so bulbs are paying off for you in the
>photography department. My time exposures take longer.  

My big problem on my 70 with this approach is the -at-#$% Giant Danios in the
tank.  They just won't slow down for my shutter speed!<G>

I'm still not completely satisfied with what I'm getting,  (when are we
_ever_ satisfied?<g>)  But I _am_ getting better at it.  I find full tank
shots, particularly if the tank is not really well lit, the hardest shots
to get right. 
Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association


Photography and tanks

by krandall/world.std.com
Date: Fri, 05 Sep 1997

>>Greetings and salutations to all in the list, the best in the world. I had
>>a question for you all. About three weeks ago I took a picture of my tank
>>so I could admire its beauty even when I'm not home. When I took the
>>picture, the tank looked fairly bright (125g/360W), the water was crystal
>>clear and the plants looked real nice. When I got my film developed
>>however, the tank in the picture looked dark, it made it look like my water
>>was the color of a dirty pond (puky green) and I could hardly see the
>>plants. What happened? This is not my tank. Actually I think the camera
>>took a picture of the front glass of the tank and for some reason didn't go
>>much further. Should I hit my camera with a baseball bat for being
>>worthless. Should I hit myself with a baseball bat for the same reasons.

Violence is almost never the answer, particularly when you are dealing with
inanimate objects.<g>

While I certainly don't consider myself an expert in photography, necessity
has taught me a thing or two.  First, what kind of equipment are you
working with?  To take photos like Amano's, you need large format cameras
and banks of enormously bright flashes all slaved together.  For the rest
of us mere mortals, we have to get by with a little less technology (and
probably a lot less talent<g>)

If you are working with a small camera with a built in flash, your results
are going to be less than spectacular, although you can still get a shot
that is representative enough to impress viewers.  I even played around
with one of those little disposable cameras one day to see just what
someone could do with minimal equipment.  If you have your own camera of
this type, get the fastest film you can, ASA 1000 preferably, 400 if that's
all you can get.  If your camera has the capability, and you can shoot a
roll of 400 film at 800, then tell your developer to "push" the film to
800.  The disposable cameras are pre loaded with 400 film anyway.  

Next, get as much light over your tank as possible.  If you have strip
lights over other tanks that can be added to the one you're photographing
temporarily, do it.  You are right to shoot the tank in a dark room if at
all possible.  You want to avoid any reflections on the glass from other
light sources.  Also, make _sure_ that your glass is absolutely clean,
inside and out.  Clean it twice, check it once and clean it again!  There's
nothing more disappointing than having an otherwise good photo spoiled by
streaky glass.

Now take your photos at an angle to the front of the tank so that the flash
bounces away from you.  You can practice the angle by standing in front of
a mirror.  If you can see yourself, you would get a flash back if you took
a picture.  Get close enough to fill the frame with your tank if your
camera will focus at that distance.  If you have a fixed focal length
camera, read the instructions, and get as close as the camera will allow.

Using the above techniques you can get pretty reasonable representations of
your tank, even if they're not publication quality.

If you have a manual SLR (single lens reflex) camera with TTL (through the
lens) metering, you can do much better.  Set you camera on complete manual
if it has automated features.  _You_ want to have complete control of the
process.

I have found that strong flashes are not particularly useful for full tank
shots unless you have enough flash power to actually light the whole tank
evenly from above.  Small flashes placed on top of a big tank will just
give you "hot spots".  A small flash from the front can give you a little
"fill in" light, but too much light from the front will completely change
the color of the tank and the shadows will come from unnatural angles.  If
you are using a flash, you will probably be limited in terms of shutter
speed to whatever setting corresponds to your flash. (usually 1/60th of a
second)  If the tank has 2w/g or less of light, I find that I usually need
to use a fill in flash to get an adequate image.  

In dimly lit tanks, I sometimes resort to ASA 200 film since it gives me a
little more flexibility.  In brighter tanks, however, you will get a much
clearer image if you shoot ASA 100 or slower film.

You have to decide whether you are taking a "fish picture" or a picture of
a tank.  In the former case, put on your macro lens, get in close, and use
plenty of light.  In the latter case, unless you have all that Amano
equipment, you may have to accept some loss of definition, particularly  on
fast moving fish.

Set your camera up on a tripod, and take all the time you need to focus it.
 Unlike photographing individual fish, you are working a little further
from the tank and don't have to worry quite so much about a limited depth
of field.  So you can work with a lower F-stop if you need to.  Still, I
try to work with as high an F-stop as possible, while not slowing the
shutter down _too_ much.  On a tripod, and if the fish are relatively slow
moving, I find that even a 30th of a second can give good results.  If you
have to slow the shutter down more than that, or if you have a lot of fast
moving fish in the tank, you will get a fair amount of blurring of the
fish.  Still, you will give a better representation of the true look of the
tank than you will if you go with a large front flash to be able to use a
faster shutter speed.  For best results, bracket your shots using at least
one F-stop above and below what you think you actually need.  I prefer to
use a shutter release cable so that I can stand without looking through the
camera to wait for the fish to position themselves nicely or to slow down.

Remember that sometimes taking a picture of just a segment of a large tank
can be more effective than trying to see the whole tank at once.  Don't be
afraid to get up close, particularly if you have macro lens to work with.
In these cases, a flash from in front of the tank can be useful, as can a
second flash on a tripod slaved to the first to reduce shadows.

Be aware that not all films work equally well for aquarium photography.  I
don't like the look of Kodachrome for planted tanks. It brings out the reds
and blues in many fish beautifully, but it's not as good for foliage.  I
prefer Kodak's Ektachrome Professional or Fuji's Provia film.  In a pinch,
I'll use Kodak Elite.

Finally, be aware that professional photographers take many, many more
photos than you actually see.  For every one of publication quality, you
can bet they have a drawer full of rejects.  Photographing in aquaria is as
fascinating as growing plants in them.  And just like the art of aquatic
gardening, good photography takes a little learning and a whole lot of
practice!
Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association


Photographing fish without causing stress

by eennis/elk.uvm.edu (E.M. Ennis)
Date: 8 Nov 1997
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.misc,rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids

Luiz Magalhaes (magalhae-at-uiuc.edu) wrote:
: Dave E. wrote:

: > 
: I was reading today a book (it was a gift - thanks Cris - I do not
: remember the name - can check, though) and the last chapter was on
: photography. There were many tips on the background, cleaning the
: front glass, using a shade. About the flash, it suggest using it
: from above, angled downwards. 
: 	--luiz

I did some volunteer work at my local aquarium and shot fish in some large
tanks (i.e. 1000+ gal). I had a flexible rubber light shade that fit over
my lens (28-70 zoom). This allowed me to place the shade on the
glass/lexan at most angles AND use a flash without getting reflections. I
guessed at absorbtions and adjusted my exposure 1/2 to 3 stops depending
on how far I was shooting through the water. For a 55, maybe go 1 stop.
you seem to know photo as well as I do; use your judgement. I've shot
several rolls of my fish, but have been to lazy to get them developed. If
I ever do, (and get them scanned) I'll put em up on the web with a how-to
(assuming they come out well).
					-Erin...

--
=========================
   Mr. Erin M. Ennis    |	Any sufficiently convoluted argument can
 **see below to reply** |	be made to appear to be science as the
  eennis(at)zoo,uvm,edu |	layman equates incomprehensibility with 
 Water Resources Major, |	science.		-Unknown
    Uni. of Vermont     |
=========================


photos of nutrient deficiency symptoms

by "Matthew Paul Rhoten" <mrhoten/surly.org>
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998
To: APD

Steve, I read your "research ideas" posting with interest. I am in the
process of learning how best to take photos of my plants, especially their
nutrient deficiencies, of which they have many :)

In case people on the list are tooling up to contribute pictures, here are
some problems I've run into, with suggestions for how to get around them:

- - Inadequate detail. Ever tried to photograph a four foot long "giant val"
leaf? Since we don't really care about esthetics when depicting nutrient
deficiencies, heck, chop up the leaf into pieces and lay them out next to
each other! If you're trying to photograph something wrong with your plant,
yank a leaf depicting the problem out of the tank, and plonk it on your
kitchen counter where you can get decent light on it and a macro lens right
up against it for some nice closeups.

- - Background problems. I made the brilliant move of shooting half a roll
straight down onto the kitchen counter mentioned above.. with a macro flash
on the camera, and a reflective surface right behind the subject. My plan
here is to buy a pillowcase of approximately the same color as a gray card,
and use that for a background.

- - Photo lab color correction. I'm now using a Macbeth Color Checker to help
out the tech at the lab, but as these are $40 or so you might just want to
be careful about lighting (in sum: use a flash) and ask your photo lab not
to color correct. Photo labs do a great job if they can see some skin tone
or white to zero in on, but boy howdy when presented with a giant field of
green they can wreak some damage.

Anyone have additions to this list?

I'm still clueless enough about the nutrient balance in my tanks that I'm
not qualified yet to contribute pictures to this effort. Once I figure out
which nutrients I'm running out of, I'd be happy to give photos to anyone
who wanted them.

While on the subject of nutrient deficiencies, does anyone have an opinion
on the relative merits of potassium chloride vs. potassium sulphate?

Thanks,
 -matt
  seattle, wa, usa


Photographing fish and awuariums?

by Doug Brown <debrown/kodak.com>
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998
To: apisto/majordomo.pobox.com

There is a lot of info on the web regarding macro photography, and Erik has
a nice article at the Krib.

Here're my brief thoughts too:

You will not be able to get decent photos with the "all-in-one" cameras.
Even with a zoom you will not be able to get close enough and fill enough
of the frame with such small fish. You will need at least a 35 mm camera
with some kind of macro capabilites. You won't be happy with images from a
video camera.

There are basically 3 lens choices for decent macro work. 1) You can get
close up lenses that attach to standard wide angle lenses. 2) You can get a
lens specifically made for macro work. Those around 55mm are common and
will work, those around 100mm seem to be ideal, allowing you to work
farther (about 16" or 40cm) from the subject. Larger lenses, i.e. 200mm
macros, can give great results but are large and cumbersome for moving
subjects. 3) You can also do as Dave mentioned and use extension tubes with
telephoto lenses. You will need to talk with a knowledgeable photographer
to get a good combination of lens and tubes and optional attachment lenses,
but some telephotos can make great macro setups and thereby give you a
multipurpose lens. Any of these options will work. I am looking for a 105
macro lens for my Nikon as I think this will work the best for me. My only
other recommendation is that you can buy 55-65mm macro lenses used for as
much as the close up attachments and get much better results.

Flash setups can get advanced but I assure you that you can get very good
results with one flash, attached or not.

Also, you need to think about how you will get the photos into a digital
format. A quick easy method IMO is to shoot negatives and scan the prints.
You can get much better results shooting slides and either scanning them
(with a slide scanner) or getting them converted by photos shops to a
digital format such as Photo CD. You will obviously need to get them to
.jpg format eventually for the web. This can all be quite daunting, and in
the end you really need to be at least a good amateur photographer and know
how to use an image processing program such as Adobe Photoshop and maybe a
scanner on a PC, unless you are going to get someone else to do part of
this.

You obviously don't need to move your fish to photograph them, although it
can make your life a lot easier. I prefer to photograph them in my tank
with the plants and wood etc. for a more realistic rendering. I also turn
the room lights off, leave the tank light on, and shoot at an angle to the
glass to avoid the flash reflection.

Sorry for all the people that have read this kind of stuff a million times,
but we're all newbies at some point eh?

BTW, these are my thoughts as a semi-capable amateur photographer, not
those of my employer. :)

>Hello everybody!
>
>I've been searching around the web for photos on my favourites...the
>West Africa dwarfs. But not too many photos are to be found.
>
>So I thought about taking some photos myself and put on my homepage with
>a discription of the fish. But I've never taken photos of the aquariums
>or fish before, can anyone please give me some advice on how to take
>good pictures?
>
>Do I need a very advanced camera and lences, or can I use my ols
>all-in-one compact camera?? It's got no zoom, but can take photos
>without blitz.
>
>I'd be most greatful for some advice.
>
>Anja Ehmke ;-)
>Norway

-Doug Brown
debrown-at-kodak.com



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Re: New Stuff on the Krib

by Dave Mosley <dxm1/calweb.com>
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998
To: eriko/elmer.wrq.com, debrown/kodak.com

On Thu, 14 May 1998 11:21:29,  Doug Brown <debrown-at-kodak.com> wrote:
>
> Erik, that is the Nikon 105mm macro lens he used! I'm still looking for one ...
>

i realize this isn't the rec.photo newsgroup, but i felt i had to chime
in...

i use both the old 105/2.5 AIS and new 105/2.8D micros, and while i
dearly love these lenses for outdoor closeups, i haven's had much luck
with either shooting my aquariums.

the main problem i've had is too _long_ a working distance, especially
with flash. true, the deepest tank i have is 16", but getting decent
focus and DOF with the 105's leaves the lens 6-8" away from the glass.

extension tubes help the distance, but wreak havoc with flash exposures.
i borrowed a friend's 60 micro, and this put the lens right up next to
the glass. unfortunately, even with a short rubber lens hood this lens
showed flaring and/or vignetting from the aquarium lights, regardless of
flash placement.

i settled on a sigma 50/2.8 macro with a cheap rubber hood. i can snap
this right on the glass, get decent DOF, and have the freedom to place
the flash anywhere (gonna try some of deiter's tricks...)

now, maybe if i lose my ektachome and buy a case of agfa...



Amano Blue

by krandall/world.std.com
Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998
To: APD

>I'd be very interested to hear from someone who knows for sure how Takashi
>Amano
>achieves those incredible sky blue backdrops to his tanks. I'm pretty sure
>that it isn't simply a blue piece of cardboard as the blue is translucent
>from the lighting.On pages 100 and 101 of the July edition of TFH magazine
>there is a photo that shows an entire tank including the sides. The blue
>lighting is on all sides and shows a continuous graduation from blue to
>white, going from bottom to top. Curiouser and curiouser.

Yes, I do know.  It is called an "infinity panel".  It is a sheet of
translucent blue plexiglass that is lit from the rear with fluorescent
lights.  Neat, isn't it?<g>


Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association


Electronic Flash

by "James Purchase" <jpurch/interlog.com>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999

Soren Petersen asked about DIY slave flashes and Dave G. offered a solution:

> At 03:48 AM 6/14/99 -0400, Disky wrote:
> > Has anyone experimented with
> >some sort of DIY flash light ?? Because real slave flashlights, are VERY
> >expensive here in Denmark (Europe).
>
> We can buy them here from Ritz Camera for $20.  How many do you want me to
> send you????

Not so fast Dave, not so fast. Slave flash units, fired remotely, are
certainly the most elegant way of lighting an aquarium to avoid relected
light from bouncing off of the front glass of the tank and ruining the
picture. However, WHICH remote flash unit to use depends upon the camera
that Soren has.

Older (i.e. traditional) SLR cameras had small sockets on the front of the
camera body which would accept a flash "plug". Once the camera shutter was
fired, an electrical signal was sent to both the "hot shoe" mounted on the
top of the camera (where you normally fit the electronic flash) AND to this
secondary flash "plug". You could hook up a remote flash to this plug via a
remote cable and then IT could set off any number of other remote flash
units, provided each one was controlled by an electronic eye. If my memory
serves me correctly, the types of units you are suggesting from Ritz Camera
are similar to this, or they have several types which would allow a setup
like this, for very little money. To light an aquarium you wouldn't need
large, powerful (and expensive) flash units - the cheap ones should do fine.

If the camera used lacks that supplementary flash "plug", then Soren will
have to get an adapter which fits into the "hot shoe" and provides just such
a remote plug so that a cable can be fitted to it to set off the first
flash.

The individual flash units could be mounted on swivel clamps that could be
clamped to the top edge of the aquarium - very even, adequate coverage could
be provided a just a few, inexpensive slave units using this setup.

Unfortunately, in a lot of cheaper "modern" cameras, mainly the autofocus
SLR types, the flash unit is built in right above or alongside the lens and
there may be no separate "hot shoe" or auxiliary flash recepticle. With a
camera of this type you have to figure out some way of isolating the flash's
output and reflecting it up and then around and into the tank in order to
aviod the reflected light from ruining the photo - kind of complicated. Or
forego the use of flash altogether.

Some cameras, mainly the more sophisticated models from Nikon, Olympus,
Pentax or Canon, have the ability to monitor and control electronic flash
units from readings taken directly off of the film plane during exposure or
through the lens at that time. These require more expensive flash units,
usually from within the same manufacturer's product line, matched to the
particular camera model. But they work beautifully, if you can afford them.

Soren, I'd suggest that you pick up one of the larger American photo
magazines (Popular Photography comes to mind) - there must be a magazine
store in your city which carries American magazines, we here in Canada can
get a lot of European mags. They have huge numbers of display ads in the
rear half of the magazines and you should find just what you need at prices
(in U.S. $$$) that will be very reasonable. Once you have located the items
needed to work with your particular camera, then Dave can step in and maybe
pick them up for you and send it off to you.

<aside> You Americans are so damned lucky - not only do you get paid in US
Dollars, but the range and selection, not to mention prices which your
consumer society offers you is enough to turn the rest of the world green
with envy...

James Purchase
Toronto
Where prices, even in cheap Canadian Dollars, are way out of line.


Publication Quality

by krandall/world.std.com
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999
To: "Majordomo/thekrib.com" <aga-contest/thekrib.com>

Dave Vanderwall wrote:

>I also have another, unrelated, question for you, Karen (just looking back
>at some older stuff).  Maybe I missed it, but what is a "publication
>quality" photo?  Does it have certain technical specs?  (Shot on certain
>film, a certain size, etc.?)

Most aquarium magazines want to work from 35mm slides, although there is
some flexibility nowadays, if the quality of the photo is comparable. (few
digital images shot with non-pro digital cameras are)  A slide that is
considered "publication quality" is crystal clear when viewed on a light
box using an 8X loupe.

Karen
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Photo Effects (Was Rio Tefe)

by Scot Gillespie <Scot.Gillespie/epsedin.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000
To: "'apisto/majordomo.pobox.com'" <apisto/majordomo.pobox.com>

Mike wise wrote:
.....I feel that Uwe's photo is slightly 'enhanced'. Note the violet cast on
the white part of the tail. It's possible that a magenta filter was put over
the flash or something like that..... 

Photographs in every case always lie. This is down to a whole barrel load of
factors, I will try to cover two.

Colour Temperature: Each light source has a different and usually variable
colour temperature, which dynamically the human eye automatically adjusts
its 'white balance' too (noon daylight is relatively blue, tungsten bulb
light is tannin yellow, and fluorescent light anywhere between turquoise to
magenta). Most video/digital cameras now have an automatic white balance,
which will digitally adjust the relative colour temperature balance. Film
however has a fixed layer structure of colour filters that are set for
either an optimum "daylight" or "tungsten" colour balance. Traditionally,
this is compensated for by the use of a colour temperature meter and a set
of compensatory filters - this is a black art comparable to balancing pH,
unskilled use of additive filters can lead to horrific results. Minor colour
balance correction can be accomplished when prints are made (by a skilled
hand printer), but with slide film you tend to have to get it right first
time.

The colour temperature of the light source is also affected by anything it
is passing through, this is probably accentuated in our case most by waters
rich in tannins, so we have a brown filter between the light source, the
subject, and then film. And we are presuming that the glass of the tank is
having a neutral colour filtering affect - which is not generally true.

The colour temperature can also be affected by any subject it is reflected
off; plants, gravel, a thin coat of algae on the sides an back of the tank
etc.. As Mike pointed out it looks like Uwe used a Magenta filter, with
fluorescent lighting (and no flash) in the photograph on
http://geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/7918/aggriotefe.gif. 
This is one of the 'standard' corrections for fluorescent lighting, but
because of other colour temperature filtering, and reflection, effects this
resulted in a violet colour cast to the subject.

Refraction/reflection: In some fish you can see an iridescence on the body
and fins as they move relative to your eye and the light source, this is
caused by tiny semi-regular ridges which act like tiny prisms separating the
light its individual light sequences something akin to a rainbow. However,
dependant on the spacing, size and regularity of the tiny ridges the effect
can be just like a rainbow, be an enhanced one colour 'tone', or can be
practically unnoticeable to the naked eye. Also as this 'shimmering' effect
is dependant on movement, if the fish is static relative to the eye and
light source the shimmering/iridescent effect is not visible and is only
seen as one colour, as only one sequence of the light enters your eye. 

These latter two points come to a head if a flash is used on the subject.
This 'goes off and on' at a relatively fast speed, far faster than the sync
shutter speed of your camera, and relatively freezes the subject relative to
the camera and the light source. The intensity of the light from the flash
also is far in excess of any natural light the fish would be subject to, and
this intensity is amplifies any iridescent light sequence coming relative to
the ordinary reflected light from the fish. This effect can be best observed
on Dieter Bork's pictures on the Krib
http://www.thekrib.com/Apisto/mayland-book.html.

I think I'll now augment Mikes mantra: Colour photos should not be used in
apisto IDs...;-)

Scot
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lights

by busko/stsci.edu (Ivo Busko)
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000

"Wayne Jones" <waj@mnsi.net> wrote:

<snip>
> Why is it then that every time I see a really stunning planted tank picture
> the tank is usually lit with some sort of wide spectrum lamps. I see very
> knowledgable people using things like Tritons or Tritons mixed with cool
> whites or P and A lamps mixed with cool whites, Chroma 50s or T8 950s and
> 965s or MH lamps. There must be some reason that they chose those lamps.
> Some of those lamps really cost a lot of money too. I don't think I have
> seen any really nice tanks that use lamps with a true triphosphor spectrum.
> I would really like to continue to use 850 lamps as they cost such a small
> amount of money but when I addded in some 950 lamps things really actually
> improved. I suppose it could have been a coincidence but who uses true
> triphosphor lamps with great success.

You mean, stunning pictures, or stunning tanks ? There migth be a huge
difference in the way photographic film (or CCD detectors in digital 
cameras) interpret the light from a triphosphor bulb, as compared with
the way our eyes interpret it. It could be that the pictures look very
different, but the actual visual appearance of the tanks wouldn't be that
different.

- - Ivo Busko
  Baltimore, MD


tank picture: overexposed upper leaves

by K12Trout/aol.com
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001

Roger - the ultimate problem here is the lighting, not
 the exposure.  you can try metering for the most
 brightly lit leaves and you'll get them at the correct
 exposure but everything else will be too dark.  or you
 could take a lot of readings and try to strike the best
 balance - which a lot of the better dedicated light
 meters do anyway.  no matter what there's just a big 
disparity in lighting.  the best way  i know to handle
 this sort of thing is to use a gradient filter - cokin 
makes them i believe.  its basically a square  piece of
 plastic thats shaded neutral grey on one side and fades
 to clear on the other - its the sort of thing people
 use to take pictures of sunsets to get both the sky and
 the foreground correctly exposed, and maybe to make the
 sky all orange or purple while they're at it.  you need
 to buy a whole adapter unit to fit the filters onto 
 your camera.  its not terribly expensive but i'm not sure its worth it either, imho


cheers
elie


Tank pictures

by K9AUB/aol.com
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001

> There are films with excellent latitude that can be overexposed by several
>  stops and still produce a good quality print.

If I may make a few suggestions here...  there is no reason to purchase film 
that can be over or under-exposed.  As with anything else in life, there is 
only one "correct" exposure, and anything other than this exposure will 
result in a degraded photograph.  No film can possibly equal the dynamic 
range of the human eye.  Film is engineered to record a certain range of 
light, and different films are designed to produce different results.  The 
trick is in getting that dynamic range to then print on paper, which is the 
limiting factor.  "Light range" is determined by the amount of light falling 
on the whitest part of the subject, vs. the amount of light falling on the 
shadows.  If you had twice as much light (1 f-stop) on the highlights as on 
the shadows, then you would be lighting that subject with a 2:1 range.  If 
you had 4 times the light (2 f-stops), the range would be 4:1. 8 times the 
light (3 f-stops), etc. etc.  Film can easily record a light contrast range 
of 100:1, while Kodak Ektacolor paper can only reproduce a light range of 
10:1.  (Other brands of print paper are similarly limited.)  Wedding 
photographers are faced with similar problems, where they try to record fine 
detail in the bride's white dress, while simultaneously recording detail in 
the groom's black tuxedo.  The trick here is to arrange lighting so that it 
does not exceed the 10:1 maximum ratio possible with paper.  Translated into 
English, this means that the shadows in the subject (aquarium) should record 
so that they just show up on the photographic negative (just above base 
density, or the clear, unexposed area of the film between frames).  The 
brightest highlights should then record no greater than 10:1 above the 
shadows.    This is achieved by adjusting the "fill" light (the light that's 
lighting up the shadows, from just over 45 degrees from the side of the tank) 
to provide that low light detail in shadows.  Then, the "main" light (the 
light above the tank) should be adjusted so that it is about 3 f-stops 
brighter than the "fill" light.  If the lights are equal in power, this is 
easily achieved by adjusting distances.  Light falls off at a predictable 
rate with distance.  The distances conveniently correspond to the f-stops on 
your camera lens.  For example, if the main light were 2.8 feet above the 
tank, then the fill light would be "3 f-stops" away from the tank 45 degrees 
to the side, i.e., 8 feet to the side.  If the main light were 1.4 feet above 
the tank, then the fill light would be positioned 4 feet to the side.  This 
lighting arrangement would give an 8:1 contrast range, well within the 
printing capabilities of common color paper.  The use of Vericolor film (or 
if you prefer a Japanese film, use Fuji Professional NPS 160 film) will 
guarantee that you are using a film specifically formulated to resolve the 
"white dress, black tuxedo" problem, and this problem is very similar to the 
aquarium's "highlighted plants, plants in the shadows" problem.  If you 
follow this formula, your aquarium pictures will always print properly on 
ordinary color paper using inexpensive machine printing, and you don't have 
to resort to special custom printing, or dodging or burning to retain detail 
in both shadows and highlights.  


Tank pictures

by K9AUB/aol.com
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001

> There are films with excellent latitude that can be overexposed by several
>  stops and still produce a good quality print.

If I may make a few suggestions here...  there is no reason to purchase film 
that can be over or under-exposed.  As with anything else in life, there is 
only one "correct" exposure, and anything other than this exposure will 
result in a degraded photograph.  No film can possibly equal the dynamic 
range of the human eye.  Film is engineered to record a certain range of 
light, and different films are designed to produce different results.  The 
trick is in getting that dynamic range to then print on paper, which is the 
limiting factor.  "Light range" is determined by the amount of light falling 
on the whitest part of the subject, vs. the amount of light falling on the 
shadows.  If you had twice as much light (1 f-stop) on the highlights as on 
the shadows, then you would be lighting that subject with a 2:1 range.  If 
you had 4 times the light (2 f-stops), the range would be 4:1. 8 times the 
light (3 f-stops), etc. etc.  Film can easily record a light contrast range 
of 100:1, while Kodak Ektacolor paper can only reproduce a light range of 
10:1.  (Other brands of print paper are similarly limited.)  Wedding 
photographers are faced with similar problems, where they try to record fine 
detail in the bride's white dress, while simultaneously recording detail in 
the groom's black tuxedo.  The trick here is to arrange lighting so that it 
does not exceed the 10:1 maximum ratio possible with paper.  Translated into 
English, this means that the shadows in the subject (aquarium) should record 
so that they just show up on the photographic negative (just above base 
density, or the clear, unexposed area of the film between frames).  The 
brightest highlights should then record no greater than 10:1 above the 
shadows.    This is achieved by adjusting the "fill" light (the light that's 
lighting up the shadows, from just over 45 degrees from the side of the tank) 
to provide that low light detail in shadows.  Then, the "main" light (the 
light above the tank) should be adjusted so that it is about 3 f-stops 
brighter than the "fill" light.  If the lights are equal in power, this is 
easily achieved by adjusting distances.  Light falls off at a predictable 
rate with distance.  The distances conveniently correspond to the f-stops on 
your camera lens.  For example, if the main light were 2.8 feet above the 
tank, then the fill light would be "3 f-stops" away from the tank 45 degrees 
to the side, i.e., 8 feet to the side.  If the main light were 1.4 feet above 
the tank, then the fill light would be positioned 4 feet to the side.  This 
lighting arrangement would give an 8:1 contrast range, well within the 
printing capabilities of common color paper.  The use of Vericolor film (or 
if you prefer a Japanese film, use Fuji Professional NPS 160 film) will 
guarantee that you are using a film specifically formulated to resolve the 
"white dress, black tuxedo" problem, and this problem is very similar to the 
aquarium's "highlighted plants, plants in the shadows" problem.  If you 
follow this formula, your aquarium pictures will always print properly on 
ordinary color paper using inexpensive machine printing, and you don't have 
to resort to special custom printing, or dodging or burning to retain detail 
in both shadows and highlights.  


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This page was last updated 17 February 2002